Air Force investigates gun after standoff on base

AP News
Posted: Nov 22, 2011 3:24 PM
Air Force investigates gun after standoff on base

The Air Force is investigating how an airman managed to get his own handgun onto a sensitive air base in Colorado where he barricaded himself in a building for 10 hours before surrendering, officials said Tuesday.

Nico Cruz Santos, 21, was taken into custody at Schriever Air Force Base at about 8 p.m. Monday, officials said. No injuries were reported.

The base about 60 miles south of Denver controls more than 60 military satellites, including those used for GPS. The Air Force said satellite operations weren't disrupted.

Officials said Santos barricaded himself in a building where personnel prepare for deployment. The satellite control rooms are in a separate, heavily guarded area.

Authorities said Santos faces a possible discharge for an unrelated crime in civilian court. Santos pleaded guilty in September to a charge of attempted sexual exploitation of a child in Gilpin County west of Denver. He faces up to 18 months in prison. Sentencing is Dec. 16.

Santos was arrested in an Internet sting in 2010 and pleaded guilty in a plea agreement, prosecutors' spokeswoman Pam Russell said.

Santos, a member of the 50th Security Forces Squadron, was reassigned to a desk job because of the civilian case, Schriever spokeswoman Jennifer Thibault said.

Personal weapons are forbidden on the base. Military personnel and civilians must both go through security when entering the base, but Air Force officials declined to comment on the specifics.

Air Force officials have not said whether he will face prosecution in civilian or military court over the standoff.

The standoff began at about 10 a.m. Monday. A negotiator and a SWAT team from the El Paso County Sheriff's Department were on scene at the request of the Air Force.

Schriever is in El Paso County, but Santos is being held in the Teller County jail in Divide, Colo., under an agreement between that county and the Air Force base.

Santos has been in the Air Force for two years and 9 months, officials said.